Not Dried Up

I know there’s been a drought of posts, but the site’s just been resting while other projects demand to be watered. Researched an idea to move hosts and now planning on taking everything with and not starting with a new blank page. Whether I have the time to post a lot or not, this will be sticking around for a while. I have a plan. And a hosting plan. The broadcast stays on air.

I also wasn’t sure for a little while if I was going to stick with a self-hosted version or just maintain the perfectly adequate and free WordPress.com mirror, and didn’t want to keep it all shiny to have it disappear shortly.* You do want to spend time creating, but not a disproportionate amount creating something that evaporates.

It’s hard to strike a balance. I have that conversation with my theater-loving performing child who rehearses for weeks and only gets to put on the show a few times, versus me wanting her to be on video or do a film project with me, which could last for ages and find a wider ranging audience..

But the camaraderie, process and applause are a siren call, aren’t they? For all of us, in our own way.

—–David

* Reference: borderline hoarding but also the economy of efficiency.

Not Dried Up was originally published on Creative Uploads

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Nine Minutes of a Sleeping Puppy (dreaming of organizing gigabytes of video)

An adorable sleeping puppy accompanied with soft piano music. I was testing camera equipment in early 2016 and pointed it at the new dog (Waffles). Pulled out a few fluffy adorable bits and changed out the soundtrack with some piano improvisations I’ve recorded over the years.

This recorded off my old Canon HV20 which was a great HD digital tape camera, but has a full-size HMDI cable out the back which outputs uncompressed HD unlike what it puts on tape, which is compressed and has a shallow color space.

So I bought an Atomos Ninja 2 last year and this was my first test. The Apple ProRes MOV file ended up being huge of course, just 9 minutes of footage added up to over 14 gigabytes. It’s was edited to half its original length and then compressed using two passes at full resolution, ending as a high quality HD mpeg2 file. It is just under a gigabyte in size (that’s about a 7 to 1 compression ratio if you skip the editing part). Quality costs money, time AND space, not counting the rendereing time.

TIP: Prep and even cue these projects to take advantage of what would otherwise be system down time.

At least these were organized in their own folder groups, if not in a structure by year or vendor, or even on the same drive (when you keep running out of room and have to add drives, you don’t have the time to reorganize right then.)

Now I am organizing Project Archives, with subgroups by client or category, and a second folder of disc images (or whatever the final delivery format was) as another copy of the final version, but as the shallow drawer I will need to dig in if I need another copy or maybe a quick conversion of the completed production to some new format.

Once those are organized in one location, I will immediately copy them to at least one other disc, if not two. This should happen almost immediately after the first copy is done.

In turn, one of those should be a removable or external drive that I can keep in another location if I am serious about the things on it.

—–David

P.S. I have another test video shot in an auditorium during setup, a long presentation collection and teardown that I filmed for use as a timelapse, and it’s 193 gigabytes in the original form. I compressed that to 34 gigabytes with no noticeable quality difference and freed up quite a bit of space by deleting the original, which I don’t need (I probably don’t need the back up either, but baby steps!)

Goodnight.

Nine Minutes of a Sleeping Puppy (dreaming of organizing gigabytes of video) was originally published on Creative Uploads

Microsoft Even Made A Windows XP and Server 2003 Patch for WannaCry

So please patch everything you can. Yes, the initial released version seems to have been halted (accidentally), but it will be back in a more dangerous version… Customer Guidance for WannaCrypt attacks —–David P.S. Friends don’t let friends run XP, but I have friends that do. Sometimes you can’t help it. I still have a…

Microsoft Even Made A Windows XP and Server 2003 Patch for WannaCry was originally published on Creative Uploads

GarageBand IOS iCloud Bug trashes the local original file

Just a little public safety note that I discovered, and I am not particularly angry yet, because for some reason I had made a back up before I tried to upload my file to keep a back up safe.

Creative uploads iOS GarageBand iCloud bug music

There seems to be a bug when using iCloud to backup a project file in GarageBand iOS that destroys your original local copy while also failing to create the backup.

So I use Windows PCs primarily, so I know that I cannot back up my GarageBand files directly to it. There is some evilness going on where Windows sees the song’s  .band back up file as a folder, and I have never seen a way to get around it. That means if you make a back up by having GarageBand create one for iTunes, then you have to sync with iTunes on a Mac in order to see it correctly and get it off of the iPad.

So generally I create a back up on iCloud. And this recent instance I had first copied the file that I wanted to back up inside GarageBand iOS, because I thought I might do some additional editing on it but I wanted to keep the original version safe.  So I trigger the iCloud backup and it spun for a little bit and then gave me this error message: it couldn’t back it up because it was damaged or in an incompatible format. In fact what had happened is an 8-kilobyte file was created in iCloud and it also overwrote the original project file ON THE IPAD.

If I had not made a copy, my work would have been destroyed. After some experimentation and troubleshooting — with many copies, thank you very much — I discovered that it was happening when I was uploading to the subfolder I created in iCloud for my music; it’s called garagebandmusic. No fancy spaces or anything. 

When I copied the GarageBand project file to the main folder file it uploaded successfully. At this point I am not moving it inside iCloud to the folder that I want to use, because I don’t know what the bug is. But I will be hooking my iPad up to a Mac as soon as possible and copying everything off again to have a safe back up.

If you don’t have space on your device I would suggest at the very least making a high-quality copy of your song and mailing it to yourself, or making “stems” which is exporting each track separately from the mix, by muting each track in turn and creating a full length audio file for each track individually. So tedious, and that’s how I used to have to make a backup of all my songs before the iCloud feature was added, because it let me use the tracks in something else, remix later and have some flexibility, although I did lose the ability to edit MIDI data that way, since it was converted to the final audio file.

It’s better than losing everything though.

—–David

P.S. If you are writing music for video or film, stems are terrifically useful alongside the final mix, because you can steal a chord from one section, repeat a bridge with cleaner edits, even create new interludes right in your editing software when an edit changes just a little. Imagine the flexibility you have with time in film applied to the musical layers. This is great if your composer can’t help in a time crunch, or even if  you are the composer.

I used these tricks when I made a short film for Phoenix Comicon a few years ago.  I actually wrote and recorded most of the music I used while still writing the script, before I had even shot anything. It came to me in moments of inspiration during the screenwriting and script editing,  so I composed and recorded a mini soundtrack as a suite, basically. 

In video editing, I found some lengths didn’t fit perfectly. Rather than re-record everything to fit my new desired timing, or worse, leaving timing in place on the film but forcing it to match the music despite the visual rhythms’ own desires, I could pull out pieces, or use shorter bars, vamps and stingers exactly how I wanted. And all on GarageBand iOS, with no iCloud or project backup available at the time.

P.P.S. It’s called Take Me 2 UR Leader and it was a final selection for the Film Challenge that year, not top prize or anything but a rare group. Plus I made a movie in 30 days where I got to handle everything but the acting roles (well, I did do one). I will tell you that’s great fun but collaboration is really great too.

GarageBand IOS iCloud Bug trashes the local original file was originally published on Creative Uploads

Flickr As A Photo Backup Part Three, Sync Experiments

I’ve been writing about how I use a free one terabyte limited account on Flickr.com as a handy offsite backup for every digital photo I have taken or scanned in the past twenty years, using a free tool called FlickrSync which I got free from https://flickrsync.codeplex.com/

It’s old but it works. (Check below for links to the previous articles)

My old Flickr.com account is public but disused, but since it’s free I set up a second one a few years ago to backup my digital photos in the cloud as yet another copy just in case.

If you haven’t been reading along: Flickr offers free accounts with ONE TERABYTE of photo storage. So you can share them online. But that’s not required: You can leave some or all of the folders or individual photos private.

Here’s some things about that process I have discovered or had to test out so I could feel comfortable with its behavior.

TIP: YOU CAN EDIT THE FOLDER NAME IN the upload tool BEFORE you upload instead of after. Then you don’t have to go online to annotate right away, and presumably the tool will remember this setting for future additions to the same folder. (Strangely I do this the other way round because that’s how I started, but also because it forces me to review the upload (for accuracy etc.) and organize it immediately while it’s still fresh.)

creative uploads flickr photo backup online storage

Yes, you can rename folders inside Flickr after you upload and it seems to track that it was started with a differently named folder. This is useful in a case like this: I only wanted to upload a subfolder of say “2016_12 EVENT” called “EDITED”, and it displays as a folder tree in the app, but it uploaded as “EDITED” which I expected. The sync tool (and Flickr, really) doesn’t care about any folder hierarchy, just the folder it’s doing. So then I added the date and event value in Flickr for easier recognition and sorting. It did not pop back up in FlickrSync after this since the photos didn’t change.

CAVEAT: Now that I have renamed the folder, the sync tool wants to see it as a NEW folder and add the photos in it as new uploads. Because you can put copies of photos or files with the same name in Flickr, it’s clearly looking at the folder name first then the files in each folder.

Anyway, to complicate things I recently moved to a Network Attached Storage device (think a monitor-less computer that is generally giant hard drive storage with some service apps) which I have mapped to a different drive letter on my computer. It recognized the photos and folders when I started syncing from it, though I tried to do a clean changeover, that is I didn’t combine selections from both drives.

Future uploads, previously from assorted computers, can now be done from the same universal storage location thanks to my giant storage NAS. But really that’s not a backup. It’s a convenient media dump. If it crashed I would lose so many things, if there weren’t copies strewn around. Make copies!

So if I synced a folder in the same location on the folder tree and named the same on my local computer, and then select it with the sync tool from the mapped NAS drive, it is under a couple extra folder names . For example, if
DriveLetterA:\1pix\2016\2016-06\ is originally mapped to
DriveLetterB:\1photos\mine\2016\2016-06
but the sync tool still recognizes there is nothing to do.

What if there is a folder with the same name in a different place?
DriveLetterA:\1photos\mine\2015\flashy
DriveLetterB:\1photos\mine\2016\flashy

creative uploads flickr photo backup online storage

Well, if the photos are named the same in this same-named folder, the app says “Nothing to do.” If you have changed the name of the photos, OR if the folder is a duplicate name but the photos are not (say in a different number range) it will want to sync it.

If the photo SHARES a name but it in fact a different photo (probably based on size) IT WILL STILL WANT TO SYNC IT! Which is great news if your photo ID number loops around or you like to reset it on shoots.

(I tested this by copying a photo over and renaming it with one of the existing photo names in a name-duplicate folder — mind you this a fresh folder that hasn’t been uploaded. You want to find out if you rename a copied over photo to the same name as one you have already uploaded in the same folder, well, you go figure that out. Clearly you are curious. Give in!)

—– David

P.S. Check out my other blogs in this series here:

Flickr As A Photo Backup Part One, Get Started
Flickr As A Photo Backup Part Two, Select and Organize
Flickr Backup Part Three. Sync Experiments (this one)

P.P.S. Click here to get Lastpass for free (or the paid version, I don’t care) and start thinking about more secure passwords without losing the convenience of knowing what they are! Or check out a podcast like TekThing and see what other ones they have experimented with.

Flickr As A Photo Backup Part Three, Sync Experiments was originally published on Creative Uploads

Flickr As A Photo Backup Part Two, Select and Organize

On the last episode of Creative Uploads

To backup my photos online in an efficient way I use an app called FlickrSync which I got free from https://flickrsync.codeplex.com/

Flickr offers free accounts with ONE TERABYTE of photo storage. And this then makes it easy to share your photos online.

As I said, I set the upload tool defaults to set all uploaded albums and photos to private. After they are up there, I could change settings for them by folder or by photo, but I don’t feel the need to advertise the address so I haven’t yet. Someday I will leverage the rating system so find forgotten gems I forgot to share or need to use in something.

creative uploads minimize maximize flickr photo backup online storage

In the upper right on windows (left on Mac) of any window are icons to minimize, maximize and close that window

The program likes to run full screen: I toggle the size to a window using the controls in the upper left. The icons on the right are the folders available, and if you double-click them it opens that very folder ON FLICKR! So you can see what’s up there already.

Once you have selected your folders, you click the Sync menu item, then “View and Sync All” and it opens up a preview window with the files it wants to upload. In my case I usually see NEW or REPLACE (sometimes I edit inline — this can be just because I changed the rotation on a photo locally.) under the thumbnails.

Confirm the choices by clicking sync and it will do it, or Cancel to edit them.

creative uploads flickr photo backup online storage

It will sync and while it takes a while, there is a progress bar on the bottom and thumbnails get checked off as you go. You don’t have to babysit it. it will get back to you when done with messages that it is successful or not. If not, you can run the sync again — all your selections are still selected, this is very handy if you just had a network issue.

I’ll leave it to you to figure out how to manage the files once on Flickr, I sort by date so I lead with the year and month and maybe location as I take them. In Flickr I then create COLLECTIONS by year and add the relevant ALBUMS (created by the sync) to them. (There are Galleries as well but they only hold about 50 photos.)

creative uploads flickr photo backup online storage

Collections do not have this limit. You can also customize a Mosaic icon for collections with 12 images, making it pretty easy to find things visually. Oh, that’s the year we went there; saw that….

I do have Flickr installed on my Android phone and iPad, so those photos are also uploaded automatically, even before I copy them to my computer (for editing easier browsing and to keep them all together (before copying to my main local storage for convenient access and viewing). If you do that you can probably skip syncing that folder in the steps above, but I like to manage that part on Flickr.

Apparently I have 116,044 photos online now, using 52.5% of my free terabyte of storage. Now that Verizon is buying Yahoo, I don’t know if that will change, but since they are all about getting you to use data (to upload and download and share) I am not worried. In any case, it’s free for now and my photos are safer because I have a backup. Will worry about changes when they happen.

Their home page is here: Flickr.com. One terabyte, safe in the cloud and password-protected.* Free.

This exploration will be continued in my next post, where we test the system and experiment to make sure it uploads what we expect and lesaves no photograph behind. Please bookmark, subscribe or follow me to tag along! Thanks!

—– David

P.S. Check out my other blogs on this here: (full links to come after the posts do)

Flickr As A Photo Backup Part One, Get Started
Flickr As A Photo Backup Part Two, Select and Organize
 (this one)
Flickr As A Photo Backup Part Three, Sync Experiments (coming soon!)

* Yes, Yahoo had a massive data breach a few years ago they didn’t reveal for a while. So have some other sites that still haven’t , you can be sure. We don’t actually know if the hackers shared the data, just that it wasn’t secure. Best practice for us means use a strong password and change it often.

Keep ahead of that by using a password manager. I finally got comfortable with Lastpass which is free (not a trial) and can be had by clicking here. A few handy but not critical premium features can be had for a buck a month. I’m cheap and even I pay for them (like, you can share a folder of selected logins to other users –even free accounts.) My post on Lastpass is here if you want a simple overview.

Flickr As A Photo Backup Part Two, Select and Organize was originally published on Creative Uploads

Flickr As A Photo Backup Part One, Get Started

Get your ducks in a row and back up your photos, at least one copy, somewhere sort of safe! Start today for free!

I have an old Flickr.com account that I haven’t used in a while, but a few years ago I set up a second one I keep private just as a backup of pretty much every photo I shoot. It’s not my only backup, but it is offsite, spacious and free. Why wouldn’t I do it? Well, if it took a lot of time, right? Here’s how I do it so it doesn’t take a lot of time.

First: Flickr offers free accounts with ONE TERABYTE of photo storage. And this then makes it easy to share your photos online. But they don’t require that and there are some good privacy settings. Although Yahoo has has some leaking password issues, so use a good password and change it every so often. Good advice for everywhere.

SIDENOTE: My post on the free Lastpass password management tool.
It’s free, or for a buck a month you get some nice additional features.
Just click here to get it and decide for yourself.

Now back to Flickr: to backup my folders in an efficient way I use an app called FlickrSync which I got free from https://flickrsync.codeplex.com/ and though it hasn’t been updated in a while but still works.

creative uploads flickr photo backup online storage
I set the DEFAULT for the FlickrSync app to add them privately; I don’t want to have to change it every time or forget to change it; I do try to confirm that every time. Also I have it set to never delete images. If I create a duplicate in a different folder or with a rename, I can catch it on Flickr later — I don’t want to automatically delete things without human intervention. I would rather have a second copy than none at all.

Only one user on the account; that’s me. Maybe I will share with my wife someday, but she can see them when we are at home and doesn’t look for a five-year-old photo on her phone during a discussion just to punctuate a discussion. She’s a fine, patient woman.

One of the things I like is when I have synced, I just close it, and when I reopen it it remembers what I had checked the the last time, so I can pick up where I left off, a week or months later.

If I resync a folder that has pictures, it will add any new ones and not worry about the others (probably takes a little longer comparing, so I do uncheck them as I go if there is not going to be anything new in them.) Since I sort by months that’s pretty straightforward.

creative uploads flickr photo backup online storage

I do have a 2016phone folder though, where I have offloaded all my phone pictures, sometimes it’s broken into folders of a few months at a time: that one I leave checked through the year and it keeps it up to date.

Occasionally there are errors or photos it doesn’t want to upload. I retry, and sometimes that works. Other times I discover the files are huge and I don’t want to upload them. (Often I will create a quick JPG of these just to have some version of the backup in place, that’s the point after all.)

For these problem files you can temporarily move them from the folder and back or rename the extension. I have also had luck trying the Flickr embedded web uploader for the tricky one and then the rest of the folder can be uploaded since it skips the existing image. But sometimes Flickr just doesn’t like the file.

I’ll continue this FlickrSync backup discussion in future posts, where I’ll detail my process and do some experimenting, which I like to do with complicated things to improve my understanding and confidence in what I am working with.

Please bookmark, subscribe or follow me to tag along! Thanks!

—– David

P.S. My loose candid photos usually end up on my megawatson.tumblr.com page, alongside observations, comments and other amusements. Back when I had a LG flip phone and was a stay-at-home dad, I briefly fed a Flickr page, but also the late, lamented PicasaWeb, even before Google bought it. It’s been folded into Google Photos, with some better features but poorer ability to organize and manage, in my opinion. I put an event on Flickr a while ago to share with the organizers and participants, but I haven’t made time to curate a feed for it, and don’t want to simply duplicate the same stuff everywhere. Tumblr tends to be the big feed for user convenience, but even that doesn’t currently get all these Creative Upload posts.

P.P.S. Check out my other blogs on this here: (links to come after the posts do!)

Flickr As A Photo Backup Part One, Get Started (this one)

Flickr As A Photo Backup Part One, Get Started was originally published on Creative Uploads

Today I Learned, WordPress Edition

That if you wrote a post and published it on WordPress using a PC, then opened the WordPress app on your phone and found an empty draft with the same title, which you thought you made earlier (I really did), you shouldn’t immediately delete it to tidy up.

Because even though it was in Drafts, it was the Published post. So I should have forced a refresh (which you think would happen when you opened the app) or been more patient and double-checked before deleting (which I thought I did but in a rush.)

TIP: Did you know WordPress has a Trash bin? Yeah, it’s available in the web browser, right at the top of your list of posts at the end, past Published and Drafts and all that. You can click Trash and select a pot and Restore it or accidentally delete it forever, whichever. AND it doesn’t show up unless there’s something in it, which is why I never noticed it.

So that’s new too!

—–David

P.S. There’s probably a Trash link in the app too, but I’m done with that for today.

 

Today I Learned, WordPress Edition was originally published on Creative Uploads

Music Making Needs Control: GarageBand iOS 

creative uploads music GarageBand songwriting

I really like Garageband iOS on my iPad. Lately it’s been improved to the point where the annoyance of not being able to do something critical has been replaced by the smaller annoyance of needing to learn where they have hidden how to do some things.

Did you know that if you long press on the Undo button it pops up the option to Redo? Why would they hide that? There’s a perfectly good space next to the Undo button where a reversed arrow would have fit! Seriously made me mad, and now that I know, let me make you mad so it can stop driving you mad.

And volume control. For ages I have battled uneven volume in a single track. Usually vocals where I just sing a few phrases with a little more gusto. The workaround was to pick a level in between that you could live with, or create another track and split the different volume tracks between them, louder clips on one with the main volume brought down, and then a boosted track to bring quieter audio up to balance.

Now Apple has included Automation controls to add a volume level path to audio tracks as they play. I think Adobe used to call them rubber bands.
This feature overrides your ability to use the regular volume slider, so get that about where you want it for the majority of your track first. Yes, this means you should already have a rough mix worked out, if you want to work more efficiently.

To activate the Automation, you tap the instrument icon on the desired track, then the yellow lightning bolt type icon below it (reference the photo). This creates the first flat audio band, set to the current volume level. You can pull it up and down carefully and it will show you the decibel changes, but this pulls the straight line between points and doesn’t work in pencil edit mode.

When you slide over the pencil lock control in the upper left into edit mode (bright red), you can tap on the line to create additional points, or long press on existing points to move them up, down, or sideways. Experiment on your own. Remember you need two points for a volume transition, but it can be a slow fade or really close  together for a jump. (Great for taking down a sound without cutting the track apart.

And remember you have Undo and Redo buttons when you screw up. You will screw up. TIP: Don’t try to swipe around in tracks to different parts of the song by touching the activated track. Just don’t. 

When done with the editing you can slide the pencil edit off. But you also need to click Done in the upper right to close the Automation control and get back to other controls.

I used this feature extensively to mix and duck audio in the track I posted for my wife this Valentine’s Day. Hear my Simply Need song free on Bandcamp. It made it easier to get an acceptable mix under deadline and tweak things at the last minute.

Enjoy your free time! Or use it to make more stuff, that’s cool,too.

—–David

P.S. GarageBand is free if you bought an iOS device that runs it anytime in the last few years. Now if you want to convert it to another format, well, that requires a Mac since you can’t open or extract from the file on Windows. But using GarageBand on a Mac (also free, the software not the Mac) you can move it off the iPad and not have to keep everything you created on a device that might just die or get stolen one day! (Yikes! Lived that fear.) With Logic (about $100) you can work on your composition in a much more full featured (professional even) audio software tool. 

P.P.S. If you have a friend with a Mac and work in Windows, they can use Logic to actually unpack the file to get to the midi and audio stems, which you could then import into your own DAW (digital audio workstation). It’s a little bit complicated but might be worth it if your music is trapped on an iPhone and you want it in another format for future use. You cannot copy the file to Windows and move it though, you have to sync to the Mac (or maybe use iCloud).

Music Making Needs Control: GarageBand iOS  was originally published on Creative Uploads

WordPress WordPress

This will not seem like a rant.

So I originally created a small Creative Uploads site on wordpress.com, creativeuploads.wordpress.com and since I really wanted a fancier hosted site, I created that later when the opportunity arose. That’s at megawatson.com/cu, or now that the subdomain works, cu.megawatson.com. If you are reading this, you are probably at one of them.

creative uploads wordpress mobile app

Use Your Brain!

That’s because I carefully copied over the original site’s posts over to the new one, likely using the offical WordPress Importer, though now I can’t recall.

Then I set up cross-posting on the new self-hosted site (which is much fancier you know) so that it would publish the new posts I write into the original blog, thereby increasing the chance someone could stumble across me, though not always where I want….

And if I decided to slim back down to the WordPress.com site and drop hosting, I don’t lose content, just the setup and add-ons.

The free mobile WordPress app is pretty cool too. I can start, edit, schedule and read posts on it, for both sites. I can start on the computer and finish on the app. Or vice versa. When there’s a feature set that works better in one, I switch between. Or I can upoad camera photos to the media library while watching tv and use them later in a post.

But boy do I hate it when I have switched between sites and don’t go back tot he main site before I create a draft or a post and it gets pushed to the WordPress.com site and not the megawatson.com/cu version, which DOESN’T CROSS-POST AUTOMATICALLY!* Because then I have to manually copy the post and media over, hopefully while it’s a draft or still scheduled.

That doesn’t seem like a rant. More like pointing fingers at myself.

TIP: If you have more than one WordPress.com site on your app, doublecheck that you are creating in the intended site before you start.

—–David

* (and that’s okay, because imagine the redundant loop of never ending cross-posts!)

P.S. Ooh and it doesn’t update my Google+ page Creative Upload page either! No wait, BOTH do if the post is unique. That’s even more annoying! I miss you, Google Plus, you were like a cool party where you could just engage or eavesdrop on cool conversations with potential friends and acquaintances. You aren’t gone, but I don’t see your party flyers around like I used to.

 

WordPress WordPress was originally published on Creative Uploads